Plug adapter for Italy
Periodically in forum arises question on the type of the power outlet that exist in Italy. Although it should be adapted to EU standards, most plugs in Italy still have 3-sockets and therefore it can happen that socket with two inputs is not receiving power supply. This problem can be easily solved by purchasing the adapter as shown in displayed pictures. Adapter can be bought in any mall, at the section with the accessories for electronics and electric devices, and cost approx. 1 or 2 euros.Add to your Trip Planner
Please not: M. di Blasi, Frances Mayes
Very sensitive topic!!
I am well aware that a storm of protest might result now, and even if these women I am referring to here find this, I hope that they look deep into the mirror and hopefully find out if there is point to what I write now.
Some time after my trip to Venezia I looked for books about this magic city. That’s how I found “1000 days in Venice”, obviously Marlena di Blasi’s first book of this 1000-day-in-(somewhere Italy) series. I didn’t warm towards it after the first couple of pages and thought it might vanish after a while, but it didn’t. Quite contrary – it got worse with every page. The book was or is about one of these romantic stories “woman goes to Italy, falls in love with a local, marries, and...” In her case I somehow doubt that it was love but more something like a calculation to find a way to make business (she collects recipes and seems to be writing cook books). The way she describes how she chases her husband around to organise this or that for her life she is used or wants to have or for her recipe collection might amuse feminists but I found this downright disgusting (and I have some characteristics of feminism...). The end of the story in which she constantly complains about the city they live (Venezia), is that they leave Venezia and set out to “look for their dream house” somewhere else. I think the next station is Toscana, then comes Orvieto and obviously she has also visited a village in Sicilia as well. All these relocations result in a book of this “1000 days in..” series. Same story. Chasing her husband around, trying to make friends among the locals, get the secret recipes out of them, get bored and leave again.. I found it even symptomatic that she seemed to have announced a “gastronomic tour through Umbria”, given one forum post in the Italia forum. No wonder that the posters looked for these tours without avail. She is already gone... I seriously hope that she goes back where she comes from and won’t "bless" more Italian villages with her presence. I have not bought any more books of her but browsed through the Orvieto one in a bookstore, it was exactly the same style.
A similar kind of story was transformed into the book “Under the Tuscan Sun” by Frances Mayes. This is even more falling into the category of these novels where foreign woman is betrayed at home, needs distraction, goes to Italy, finds a house, renovates it with the help of emigrants, finds an Italian, shipwrecks the relationship, finds a writer of the same nationality as her and happily lives after. Place: Cortona. Did she ever ask herself why she does not let the house renovation be done by locals? Did she ever ask why she messed up the relationship? Maybe she thinks she lives on another planet, but definitely not in Italy. No, I haven’t bought her book (I would rather give the money to charities) but have browsed through it in a bookstore. Imho It is a pure waste of money buying this book. She does not describe Italia but her own unhealthy perception.
Unique Suggestions: There is no need imho buying these books, a waste of time and money.
When I read the book “La Bella Figura” by Beppe Severgnini I almost died of laughter because he describes exactly the books of these two women, without mentioning their names though. But is it obvious. That’s the quote out of his book I am referring to:
## Almost all modern accounts of the country fall into one of two categories: chronicles of a love affair, or diaries of a disappointment. The former have an inferiority complex toward Italian home life, and usually feature one chapter on the importance of the family, and another on the excellence of Italian cooking. The diaries take a supercilious attitude toward Italian public life. Inevitably, there is censure of Italian corruption, and a section on the Mafia.
By and large, the chronicles of love affairs are penned by American women, who display love without interest in their descriptions of a seasonal Eden, where the weather is good and the locals are charming. The diaries of disappointment tend to be produced by British men, who show interest without love. They describe a disturbing country populated by unreliable individuals and governed by a public administration from hell.###
Fun Alternatives: This “love without interest” Severgnini describes is exactly the most critical issue with so many of the books that have been written by foreigners (women mostly). Unfortunately so many people fall for these books and so many people come just because of these kinds of books to Italia and look for these idyllic landscapes and towns.
But there are countless books which don’t fall into these categories, starting with the books of Beppe Severgnini. I loved his “Bella Figura” one, because he is quite frank with his compatriots but without insulting. He just writes about the plain reality, but in a funny and enjoyable way. Other books are the one of Luigi Barzini, “The Italians”, a very amusing book or the books of Dario Castagno about his life as tour guide in Toscana with very lovely and passionate descriptions of the region and its locals. Books by foreign women which do not fall in the category of utmost trash? I am afraid that I did not yet find one.
For German speaking, the books of series Lesereisen by publisher Picus or the series =gebrauchsanweisungen]Gebrauchsanweisung by publisher Piper are excellent to read. (Sorry for the strange link name, but it works)
© Ingrid D., January 2010 (So please do not copy my text without my permission.). Update June 2015: wording.Add to your Trip Planner
Venice: Please buy Murano and not fakes
We come to Venezia to admire their glass manufacturing mastering. And we want to bring some glass souvenir back home? Then please consider that real artwork comes with a price.
There are beautiful small pieces for good value (like pendants or bowls, ear rings and small animals, and even “sweets” made of glass), but you just cannot buy a set of wine glasses or mirrors or any of the other art work from Murano for under 50 Euro.
So make sure you buy glass art that was made in Murano and not elsewhere.
Since many years plagiarists, mostly from Asia, are trying to copy Murano work. Some dealers in Venezia are greedy enough to sell it as “made in Murano”.
The best way to avoid this is not to purchase glass goods in any dubious looking shops in Venice. And then not to fall for touts offering "special trips to Murano". Just go on a boat to Murano and do this on your own. Look at how the masters work and let them explain what kinds of skill and material and “production steps” is necessary to result in such beautiful work. Then you are able to differ between fakes and real Murano artwork.
Or, visit the Museo del Vetro, the glass museum on Murano.
The real artwork has a logo, called Vetro Artistico Murano, and should be handed over with the purchased good. The vase in my main photo was 95 Euro, about 20 cm in height.
If you want to learn more about Murano glass art and the artists, check the website below. The good and reliable glass manufacturers on Murano are listed, with links to their website, partly also with specific art work.
The heart of Venice - Murano
Some time ago there were large campaigns against counterfeited glassware. A dealer from Murano dealer was sent to prison for having sold fake material as "Made in Murano". Congratulations Venezia and Murano for taking such dramatic measures! I wish more companies would act like this!
© Ingrid D., January 2010 (So please do not copy my text or photos without my permission.). Update June 2015: wording.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Arts and Culture
ITALIAN TRAINS ARE CRAP
DO NOT USE TRENITALIA THEY ARE THE WORST TRAINS IN EUROPE
A WEBSITE THAT DOESNT WORK
TICKET MACHINES NOT WORKING
CONDUCTORS NOT GIVING CHANCE
Always give the conductor the correct fare. I gave him 50 euros and he wouldnt give me my stinking cha
Unique Suggestions: Get a coach if you can or try to find a TGv service that goes through italy
Fun Alternatives: get a coach if you can or try to find a tgv service going through italyRelated to:
Gondolas in Venice - when is the best time?
Gondolas are perhaps the most "touristy", well known things to do in Venice (or even in all of Italy).
Unique Suggestions: We ended up taking a night time gondola ride, and were so glad we did! It was a little bit chilly, but it was quiet and enchanting. Half the time all we could hear was the gentle lapping of the water against the gondola and the gondolier calling out when we rounded corners. Every so often, we would see some of the few tourists crossing bridges who would wave to us. In fact, we caught the gondolier as he was covering the gondola and getting ready to close for the night - he was one of the last four gondolas operating. Seeing the Grand Canal and Rialto Bridge at night was breathtaking - the bridge all lit up was beautiful, and the canals were all but empty (none of the congestion you get during the day). The experience was worth every penny, to me.Add to your Trip Planner
The idea of private beaches just does not appeal, these beaches are kept very clean and beds and umbrellas all nicely matching and uniform. But really if you are on a budget which most of us travellers are, then who is going to pay £25 or more to lie on a beach. The local municipals have a section of the beach which is available free to all and these were the busiest parts of the beach, although I did notice that these parts were not as "pristine" as the private ones.
Fun Alternatives: The Alternative is to find quiet secluded spots that are not frequented by the snob element.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
The Vatican- Cattle gates and billions of tourists
Easter weekend at the Vatican is a fond memory... Hundreds of tourists waiting to enter the Vatican and people wishing to see the Pope. If you don't mind direct sun, a bursting bladder and lines of people herded like cattle to the slaughter then try to see the Vatican on Easter weekend.
Unique Suggestions: Expect a long wait in line and keep conversational skills honed. Chatting with those around you will make the time go by faster and fill you in on things you should and shouldn't see.Related to:
- Religious Travel
- Castles and Palaces
pick pockets, gypsys
Me and my wife went to Rome back in March-2007 and it was great, i've heard winter is one of the best times to go to Rome, all i can say... goto Google maps, search for Rome... the image you'll see there (satellite) will show a lot of brown dusty areas... well that's because that picture was taken in summer time... now imagine all those areas in a nice green color... it's true that it rains a lot... but just live the adventure and i can assure you 100% you'll get the mos beautilful views of the city and gardens in winter time than in summer time. i hope this helps you. One last advice if you decide to go to Rome... when you visit the Spanish Steps... be aware of the gipsys by the main staris... don't stop for any reason... even if they step up right in front of you... keep walking, if you have to push them away from you, do it but dont stop.
i'm not trying to scare you but that was the only bad experience i had when in Rome. we where there for 11 days and we couldn't see everything in the city there's a lot of things to do in Rome.
Fun Alternatives: Please se the picture i'm attaching, while in Rome. this picture ws taken before we go down the stairs. The red circles on the left and right sides of the picture are to identify 2 gypsys, the circle in the middle is to identify a possible victim. The way they saw how they work... the one on the right aproaches to you with a baby in her arms and steps right in front of you begging for money making you to stop, a natural reaction would be to go around her (that's what they want you to do), as you try to go around she'll keep standing in front of you making you go to a side and she'll keep pushing untill you are agains the wall and she'll be in front of you still begging (and probably with the baby crying), what you don't know is that the other woman (the one on the left) already try to steal from your pockets, and they'll keep trying untill they get something from you, unless you keep walking straight, push them if needed (don't hit them, just push them away firmly enough to make them know you are not going to fall in their game). One way to know when they take something from someone it's because as soon as they take it, the one who did will disapear and the rest will start to clap or to whistle, to alert the others they've got something and they must leave the area. I hope this helps you or anyone and if you want to know more details on this topic don't hesitate and contact me.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Budget Travel
Free guided walking tour in Vatican City
Beware of free-lance tour guides positioned outside St. Peter's Basilica! They attract unsuspecting foreign tourists with their promotion on free guided walking tour of St. Peter's Basilica. They are definitely not sanctioned by St. Peter's Basilica as admission to St. Peter's Basilica is free.
Each one of them will lead a group of approximately ten tourists. The tour is usually conducted in English and lasts approximately half an hour. Of course they will explain to you and provide you with all the important details of the various popular attractions inside St. Peter's Basilica. At the end of the tour just outside the entrance to St. Peter's Basilica, they will ask for a small donation for their effort. This is when everyone in the group starts to disperse. A good samaritan may probably donate two or three euros to the tour guide out of pity!
Unique Suggestions: Disperse from the walking tour group before the tour guide asks you for a small donation.
Fun Alternatives: Do not join the guided walking tour in the first place unless you are willing to pay for the simple service of the free-lance tour guides.Related to:
- Family Travel
The Leaning Tower of Pisa
We consider climbing up the Leaning Tower of Pisa a tourist trap. Most foreign tourists were not satisfied after climbing up the tower! It is certainly not worth the 15.00 euros admission fee to climb up the staircases to the top!
During the summer months, the queue to climb up the tower is extraordinarily long. You may have to wait between half an hour and one hour for your turn to climb up the tower. It is because only certain number of persons are allowed at the viewing platform at any one time to avoid congestion and for safety reasons due to the heavier weight!
When you reach the viewing platform you are rewarded with only the view of the city of Pisa which doesn't mean anything as the tower is not very high! Furthermore you climb the staircases up the tower at your own risk! Certain parts of the staircases certainly look rather haphazard and in disarray and do not look in particularly good condition!Related to:
- Family Travel
there are vendors everywhere......shop around...the masks,get the paper mache ones...away from St.Marco's Sqr...it'll be much more economical! Plus..i was informed this is closer to the authenic ones...not the porcelains.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
- Arts and Culture
Trenitalia and Express-2 does not work together!
No surprise: Trenitalia uses a different reservation system than (ex) Soviet Express-2.
Surprise: in their Very Infinite Wisdom (r) Trenitalia/FS and RZD could not agree, how to run a sleeper with reservation properly.
Result: the weekly Moscow-Kiev-Budapest-Zagreb-Ljubljana-Venezia-Ljubljana-Zagreb-Budapest-Kiev-Moscow
sleeper does not show up in Trenitalia, but does show up in Express-2. So even the ticket office in Venice is not aware, passengers can use the Russian sleeper while going to Zagreb or Budapest - always a more expensive service is being sold!
Unique Suggestions: Nothing to do. Just be aware, even the regular "smart" price Venezia-Budapest 29 Euro can be upgraded by Russian conductor on the board of always empty sleeper for few Euros. Enjoy the first-class service from Budapest to Venice (or the other way) for next to nothing.
Fun Alternatives: Since the sleeper is not in the Trenitalia/FS reservation system no one knows about it, only Russians. So the sleeper is running between Venezia and Budapest nearly empty. The regular "smart" price Venezia-Budapest 29 Euro can be upgraded by Russian conductor on the board of always empty sleeper for few Euros. Enjoy the first-class service from Budapest to Venice (or the other way) for next to nothing.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
Outlet Mall-Outside Florence Italy
Most tours companies have to charge you for an excursion to the outlet malls outside of Florence. Beware: It is an outlet mall for the rich and size 2s of the world: something may be 50% off but it's 50% off of 2400 euros! The salespeople did not acknowledge any of the shoppers in our group (EVERY STORE), even to say hello in English or Italian. Our group did not purchase one item and were disappointed we wasted our limited time in Italy on this excursion.
Unique Suggestions: Add 1 hour to stop there on the way to or from another site. We were able to afford a glass of wine and a beer.
Fun Alternatives: Stay in Florence for shopping. The REAL designer stores ares less expensive than the outlets and they have more sizes.Related to:
- Women's Travel
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
Eating near the Vatican - don't!
Bottom line is don't! We stayed at the Hotel Bramante adjacent to the Vatican Walls (actually built against the wall). Asked at reception for somewhere to eat close by. They were very diplomatic and gave us walking directions to Piazza Navona. We were tired (just arrived from Canada) and trolled Borgo Pio! Mistake! Go to Piazza Navona!Related to:
- Business Travel
- Family Travel
- Food and Dining
rental car - hidden costs
We rented a car with Europcar for four days with full insurance (extra 15 euro/day) for peace of mind. We asked the receptionist about any possible extra costs. The answer: only fuel (always return car with full tank) and police tickets. Sounded ok. During the renting time we had a flat tire which was replaced with the spare tire without problems.
Upon returning the car to the company we informed the receptionist about the flat tire.
She told us we had to pay for the repair of the tire! Actually the tires, roof and underside of the car are NOT included in the full insurance. We remembered the receptionist about our question of any extra costs with a full insurance. A hefty discussion followed. We asked her if she could show us where this was written in the contract. She gave us a contract (2 pages of small print) but refused to show where it was written so we started to read. This took a long time. We couldn't find it. The discussion continued. We asked for her name. She refused to give it. She asked us to leave her office as she had enough problems to fill two lives. We refused to leave. She advised us to never rent a car again with Europcar. Aah that finally sounded as some good professional advice. At the end she said furious she was gonna pay herself for the tire repair! This we will have to wait for till the credit card statement arrives with the amount deducted... Altough this happened to us in Spain the same is trough for Italy.
Note: They will only rent cars against a credit card. By signing the contract you authorize them to get the money from your card which will be done a few days later when you are probably already gone home.
-always check the car (especially spare tire,roof and underside) before signing the contract
-when returning the car ask for the car being checked and insist on having written on the contract that the car is returned ok and agree on the final renting price. Pay before leaving the office and have it written on the contract the invoice was payed.Related to:
- Business Travel
- Road Trip
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